Mitt Romney’s clear victory over President Obama in last night’s debate — during which the challenger didn’t land any knockdown punches but won essentially every round on the scorecard and dominated the bout from start to finish — was principally a result of his success in two areas. The first was his effectiveness in beating back the main point of Obama’s ad thrust and stump message across the past several months — that Romney ostensibly wants to cut taxes for the rich and raise them for the middle class. Few people who watched the debate are likely to find those ads very convincing in the future. The second was that Romney attacked Obama’s two favorite things: Obamacare and “green energy” crony capitalism.
On the former, Romney highlighted that Obamacare would raise health costs, siphon $716 billion out of Medicare, and institute an unelected board of 15 people (the Independent Payment Advisory Board) that would be empowered to make further decisions affecting the availability of medical care. He also emphasized that Obamacare is already adversely affecting small businesses’ willingness to hire workers. While he could have said more about Obamacare’s dangerous consolidation of power and its grave threat to liberty, this was a rather effective list. He concluded it with this gem: “I just don’t know how the president could have come into office, facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis…and spent his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people.”
In response, Obama predictably claimed that “the irony is that we’ve seen [the Obamacare] model work really well in Massachusetts, because Governor Romney did a good thing, working with Democrats in the state to set up what is essentially the identical model.” Romney — who had already declared that “the best course for health care is to…craft a plan at the state level that fits the needs of the state,” and who had already emphasized that “one of the magnificent things about this country is the whole idea that states are the laboratories of democracy” — then hit Obama with one his best counterpunches of the night:
“First of all...I like the fact that in my state, we had Republicans and Democrats come together and work together. What you did instead was to push through a plan without a single Republican vote. As a matter of fact, when Massachusetts did something quite extraordinary, elect[ing] a Republican senator to stop Obamacare, you pushed it through anyway. So entirely on a partisan basis, instead of bringing America together and having a discussion on this important topic, you pushed through something that you and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid thought was the best answer and drove it through. What we did, in a legislature 87 percent Democrat, we worked together. Two hundred legislators in my legislature — only two voted against the plan by the time we were finished.”
If there was any response during the debate that likely resonated with swing voters, it was that one.
Romney immediately added, “What were some differences?
“We didn’t raise taxes. You’ve raised them by a trillion dollars under Obamacare. We didn’t cut Medicare. Of course, we don’t have Medicare, but we didn’t cut Medicare by $716 billion. We didn’t put in place a board that can tell people ultimately what treatments they’re going to receive. We didn’t…put people in a position where they’re going to lose the insurance they had and they wanted.”
Romney returned to the bipartisan message a few moments later, conveying that “my experience as a governor is if I come in and — and lay down a piece of legislation and say it’s my way or the highway, I don’t get a lot done.”
Shortly thereafter, he added that the right course was not to have “the federal government taking over health care for the entire nation, whisking aside the 10th Amendment” in the process.